The spree of interdicting principals is a part of the government`s plan to pave the way for the collapse of the national school system to enthrone the international schools in the country, the Old Boys Association of the D.S.Senanayake College, Colombo charged yesterday.
Association`s Acting President Vinindra Weeraman told a news conference that the Circular issued by the Education Ministry banning collection of any donation from parents, past pupils, well-wishers and others would lead to financial problems at the school because the Ministry`s allocations for the school are hardly enough to cover expenses or to finance school development activities.
`During the 1996-1997 period, the schools received financial assistance from the government. Now we have to purchase everything. Last year, our school`s total expenditure was Rs. eight million. This year we need ten million rupees. Only Rs. 100,000 is given to the school to building maintenance. In this situation, the school has to be run with the OBA assistance. But, this is no longer possible because of the ban on accepting donations,` he said.
Therefore, the national school system in the country would have to face a major financial crisis in the near future because there would be no funds to settle security services, telephone, electricity and other sundry bills.
`If the quality of national schools declined, upper middle class parents would send their children to international schools. Recent interdictions of the national school principals also discredit these schools. Therefore, we wonder whether this is an attempt to privatise free education and promote international schools. These Ministry officials do not appear to heed even what the Prime Minister said recently regarding these interdictions,` he said.
Referring to the interdiction of their principal on Wednesday, he said that the principal had contributed immensely to raising the school`s overall academic and sports standards.
`During his six-year term, the school got numerous facilities including a well-equipped swimming pool, hostels and a gym etc. That is why there is a big demand for the school. About 5000 children seek admission to the school. Only about a small percentage get selected. Then, the majority of disappointed parents turn against the school principal,` he said.
Asked whether they justify the interdiction due to the alleged malpractices and irregularities in the Grade 1 admission process, he said though they could not tell anything about it as old boys, they had no objection to taking action against the principal after a proper investigation according to an established disciplinary procedure in this regard.
Secretary to the School Development Society (SDS) Dhananjaya Rupasinghe said that the present problems in the school admission process had arisen due to the irregularities in the Circular regarding Grade 1 admissions.
`Without correcting these irregularities, taking action against principals like this will cripple the school activities,` he said. SDS member Azeez Nizardeen charged that the government is already having talks with the ADB to privatise free education.
`Thanks to the Ministry`s action, electricity and water supply to the school will soon be disconnected. The fate that befell the CTB will befall the schools soon. The government is clearly laying the groundwork for privatisation,` he said.
The OBA urged parents of the school`s present students to be present at the school on Monday to discuss the future course of action regarding the present situation.